Recently, I had the great opportunity to visit Switzerland, as part of an exciting press trip. One that I'd been very much looking forward to. The trip was part of an interesting campaign hosted by the tourist board of Switzerland. This concept was an art press trip, that would eventually showcase an interactive ‘pop up’ gallery, where all of the work would be exhibited at the Central Station of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and at the Central Station in Antwerp in Belgium. Find more info about the campaign here.
I was lucky enough to visit the Lucerne area towards the end of October, during Autumn. When nature’s palette was starting to slowly change, from the lush summer greens to the more predominate autumnal tones and colours, to which any photographer or tourist would be excited to capture. Understandably, I was really excited to visit at this point in the year, as I not only love the season of autumn, but it was also a time of the year I haven't yet experienced such conditions, in the alpine mountains of Europe.
From Zurich airport, I travelled towards the city of Lucerne, which is located on the banks of the beautiful Lake Lucerne. Many refer to it as the ‘gateway to the Alps’. So, it was an ideal location for my adventures to start. I had seen and read a lot about this particular region and it seemed to have the perfect mix of culture, lakes and mountains. It formed the perfect combination for me personally, but also within my style as a photographer. So much so, it definitely seemed to be the perfect place to capture that overall feeling of silence, which is in keeping with my trademark style of work.
So, Where did I go?
Here are my top tips on the best places to visit in this beautiful region! I had an interesting and varied itinerary planned and a clear purpose for this trip. It was all carefully planned out by the tourist board and although it seemed like it was going to be a busy few days, I was really delighted to be here and was just thrilled to be part of it. My first point of call was the city of Lucerne. It was my first time visiting. The weather was perfect and I was really happy to be taking in the sights and sounds of this special place.
Lucerne, is well worth a visit and a popular destination stop, for anyone following the tourist trail. It is a pretty and compact city, known for its preserved medieval architecture, that can be seen throughout the city. It is a perfectly located destination, that is nestled amongst the snow-capped mountains on Lake Lucerne. It has a colourful Altstadt (Old Town) which is home to some splendid buildings. Surrounding parts of the city is the 870m Museggmauer (Musegg Wall), which is an interesting 14-century rampart. To get a good impression of the beuaty of the lake and the surrounding Alps, I would suggest to board a boat at the main dock, just across the rail station. Five splendidly restored steamers, over a hundred years old, are the pride of the Lake Lucerne fleet will take you accross the lake and back.
Another popular site to discover and explore here, is the elegantly covered Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), which is a popular tourist focal point in the tourist centre. It was built in 1333 and links the Aldstadt to the Reuss River's right bank. It is an impressive site and a popular haunt for all types of photographers.
Here, I was taken aback by its overall natural beauty and found it to be a place well worth stopping over. It is primarily a ski resort and the main village is located at a height of 1,920 metres (6,300 ft) above sea level. The village is relatively small, but is at the heart of the thriving resort. Of course, the main attractions here are alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledging, during the winter months.
Although, as an all year round destination hiking, biking, rock climbing, paragliding and fishing, draws many other outdoor enthusiasts, from all around, at different points of the year. It is definitely a great place for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and during my time here, it was hugely popular with all manner of adventure seekers. Simply looking to enjoy an adventurous activity or perhaps capture the perfect shot.
Even though it is located high in the mountains. The pretty village is accessible by car during the summer month, but due to the volume of tourists, it can have some time restrictions. It can also be reached by use of gondola lifts, which are located nearby.
Once here I made the most of my time and biked pretty much as far as I could. It was an impressive place and the light for capturing photographs was working in my favour. Here the clouds rolled over the mountain tops and the low light trails really helped to bring out the atmosphere of an autumnal mountain scene.
The three peaks of the Erzegg, Balmeregg and Bonistock all dominate the mountainous panoramic views. Their height of 2150, 2255 and 2160 meters, respectively, seems to make you feel small and insignificant. Yet they act as the perfect backdrop for any photographic shot.
Nestled amongst these dominant mountains is the Melchsee and the nearby Tannensee. These are natural lakes that act as reservoirs for the local area. They also provide the perfect focal points for any would-be visitor to explore the surroundings and take a photograph next to the lake or of this enchanted setting. During my time here, I was lucky enough to cycle around all around, in pretty much perfect light.
The light allowed me to set up my equipment to capture the essence of nature within great light and atmospheric conditions. It was simply amazing, as I could not only focus on my photography, but it was also just spectacular just being there, watching the clouds pass along and to see the shadows dancing across the valley.
As you will see from the images I’ve captured, it is an interesting and dramatic area. Here I had to wait for the clouds to rise and move across the mountains. Before the sunlight could shine through. Even though I had to wait, the conditions were good and I was generally pleased with the way the shots came out. I felt it is a great place for anyone to visit and I’m sure that on other occasions, when the cloud cover becomes little less.
For a perfect silent retreat, I would definitely suggest Hotel frutt Lodge & Spa. It is perfectly positioned at the Melchsee and provides breathtaking views over the lake and mountains. It again acts as the perfect backdrop for any perfect sunrise or sunset.
3) UNESCO site Biosphere Entlebuch
Next on my places to visit was the amazing area known as Lucerne’s ‘Wild West’. The Biosphere Entlebuch is a designated area of over 400 square kilometres. It is a naturally diverse area containing beautiful moorland and Alpine pastures, that really makes for the a peaceful and tranquil setting.
It is regarded as Switzerland's most extensive moorland areas and a variety of different moorland landscapes are found here. There is also an extensive array of different types of flora and fauna, which all hold significant importance internationally. With many tourists and even botanists coming to the area in order to study and view the many different species. Due to extensive natural beauty the area of Entlebuch is a designated by UNESCO area and is the first biosphere reserve in Switzerland.
Here, I wondered around freely, taking in several lowland hiking trails which meandered for miles through the open land and small woodlands scattered all around. It had a fairy tale feel and within my photography I really attempted to capture the sheer beauty of this unique area. Luckily, the weather conditions and light was working in my favour and I was therefore able to photograph it the way I had intended.
4) Brienzer Rothorn
The Brienzer Rothorn is around 1 hour and 25 minutes away from the main centre of Lucerne and it is easy to reach by car and then located close to the main road. So, it becomes a popular destination for anyone wanting to visit the Lake Lucerne region. The Brienzer Rothorn is an impressive mountain and forms part of the more extensive Emmental Alps. It has an elevation of 2,350 metres above sea level, the Brienzer Rothorn is the highest summit of the range and it looks down on crystal blue waters of the extensive Brienzersee, some distance below. The views are breathtaking and on a clear day you can see for many miles.
Travelling up the mountain side is a great site and a feet of engineering. The Brienz Rothorn Bahn is spectacular railway and forms the main attraction in this picturesque area. It is an authentic alpine train that chugs slowly up the mountain side. Allowing any visitor to take a enjoyable ride to the top and revel in the wonders of the natural beauty that surrounds. The train has been completing the same journey since 1892 and this year saw it celebrate its 125th year.
During my time here I came up to the mountain summit by cable car. It then provided me with the perfect vantage point to not only see the train travelling up the mountain, but I could also capture it from various angles on its way up.
Once at the mountain summit I wandered along the ridge trail, that has some breathtaking views either side. Again, the weather played a significant role in allowing me to gain some good quality images, that certainly captured the raw beauty and remoteness of this amazing location.
My fifth and final destination stop saw me visit the magnificent Pilatus Mountain. This majestic mountain overlooks the city of Lucerne and also the impressive expanse of Lake Lucerne in the distance.
The mountain is an impressive sight and proves popular with visitors who come to the area. It comprises of several peaks, the highest of which the highest (2,128 m (6,982 ft)) it is named Tomlishorn and is located about 1.3 km (0.81 mi) to the southeast of the top cable car and cog railway station. There are a further two other peaks right next to the stations are called Esel, which lies just east over the railway station, the one on the west side is called Oberhaupt. All of which allow for a stunning viewpoint and on a clear day marvelous views of the lake some distance below.
I made my way to the top of the summit by cable car, which left from the valley below it was fast and efficient and easily accessible from the city. There is alternative mode of transport to the top. That being the Pilatus Railway. This railway is certainly a stunning sight to see, as it makes its way up the mountain side. It is the steepest track railway in the world and has an impressive maximum gradient of 48% and an average gradient of 35%. It has many breathtaking vantage points and certainly makes for a great way to reach the very top. It is a popular mode of transport, by any visitor wishing to reach the top. The line runs from the village of Alpnachstad, which is located on the banks of Lake Lucerne, to a station near the Esel summit of Pilatus, which makes it the highest railway in the Obwalden region and the second highest in Central Switzerland after the Furka line.
I would like to extend a huge thank you to Lucerne Tourism and Switzerland Tourism for allowing me to be part of this project and also applaud them on their creative and intuitive approach to marketing a great concept.
Check out the complete campaign here, to help give a brief insight and work being made visable at Utrecht Centraal Station, in the Netherlands and also Antwerp, in Belgium.